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sential to a system of truth, which is harmonious in every part, and forms one connected, consistent plan of di. vine truth. But if any doctrine be denied and rejected, which is a necessary part of the system of truth reveal. ed in the scripture, or which is really implied in it, the connection is hereby broken, and the whole system is destroyed ; and every truth contained in it is implicitly given up and denied : As a chain is broken and spoiled by taking away one link of it ; and a well cemented and strong arch is broken down and demolished, by remov. ing a small, but necessary part of it. From this it follows,
II. That there is no other scheme, or system of supposed truth, which is connected and consistent with it. self, through the whole of it.
This follows as a necessary conclusion from the fore. going. If that be true, therefore, this must be also true. There is but one consistent plan of religious truth, which is revealed in the scripture; and another cannot be invented, or exist, which is consistent with itself in every part. Therefore, if we can find what is the system of doctrines revealed in the Bible, (and this we may and shall do, if it be not wholly our own fault), we may be sure no other, which is throughout consistent, can be found or is possible. As every divine revealed truth is perfectly consistent with the whole truth ; and every doctrine comes in, to make and complete one whole, and is so connected as to make one uniform system, which is not capable of any alteration, without rendering it imperfect : So error and false doctrine, is always necessarily inconsistent with itself; and no system of error can be invented, which is not inconsistent, and does not imply a contradiction. Thus error is always crooked, and cannot be made straight. False doctrines may be, and often have been advanced, and formed into a sort of a system, and have a degree of connection and agreement with each other, and may be joined with some truths ; and be made to appear plausible, and even consistent with all truth, to a superficial, undiscerning eye; and especially to a mind filled with prejudices against the truth, and real disgust of it. But when these docvrines, or this system of errors, are critically examined by a discerning mind, they will be found to imply gross inconsistencies and contradictions. And a mind thus prejudiced, and disaffected with the great truths of divine revelation, may view them as inconsistent with reason, and with each other, and think he finds innumerable contradictions in the Bible : and consequently reject it, and embrace what appears to him a more consistent, or at least a more pleasing scheme. But nothing is obtain ed by this, but a temporary pleasing dream, and delusion; which when properly examined will appear to consist in confusion and self contradiction, and if followed in the natural and genuine tendency of it, will land the infidel in total darkness, and universal scepticism, the greatest of all contradictions and absurdities. This has been verified by numerous facts in the christian world ; and instances of it are multiplying at this day.
Those doctrines, which are inconsistent with the ab. solute supremacy and independence of God; his omniscience, unchangeableness, and infinite felicity ; his infinite wisdom, rectitude and goodness, must be false doctrines; and all that are connected with them, and follow from them, must be also contrary to the truth, and are an implicit denial of the being of the true God, and inconsistent with any proper acknowledgment of him. The denial of the decrees of God, and that he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, and all those doctrines which are implied in this, and follow from it, are inconsistent with this true character of God, and therefore are false doctrines, and an implicit denial of the being of the only true God, and inconsistent with all true piety, and if followed in their true consequences, will lead to universal scepticism, darkness and delusion.
Those tenets relating to human liberty, and that moral agency of man, necessary in order to render him capable of virtue or vice, praise or blame, which are inconsistent with the decrees of God fixing all events, and all the actions of men, are inconsistent with the divine character, and even with the existence of God; are in. consistent with the holy scripture ; and are inconsistent with themselves, implying self contradiction, and the greatest absurdity ; which, it is supposed, has been in some measure made manifest in the foregoing work
And without mentioning more particulars, it is left to the candid, considerate reader to examine every doctrine which has been proposed in this view ; and it is presumed that he will find the whole, and especially all the leading sentiments, not only consistent with each other, but with the being, perfections and character of God, revealed in the scripture ; and that no other scheme of doctrine can be consistent with these, or with itself; but tends to infidelity, and to remove all impor. tant, religious truth : And if so, and he be disposed to receive the truth in the love of it, his mind will by this be more established in the truth, and know it, and that no lie is of the truth; but that this is the true God, and eternal life.* And the farther he proceeds in the line of truth, and the more clear and comprehensive view he obtains of it, the greater will be his confidence and assurance that this is the only system of doctrines, which is agreeable to the divine perfections, the word of God, and with itself; and that these are the doctrines which are according to godliness : And the greater satisfaction and joy will he have, in contemplating, loving and obeying them.
III. It appears from the whole of the foregoing, that it is of great importance, that the doctrines and truths contained in divine revelation, should be understood, believed and loved ; that this is necessarily implied in the exercise and practice of true religion, without which there is no salvation,
If this were not important and necessary, there would be little or no need of a divine revelation. This is a revelation of a system of truth, and of duty ; the foundation and reason of which is the revealed truth; and all obedience consists in knowing, loving and obeying the truth. Therefore, were there no doctrines, no truth and articles of faith revealed, no duty or obedience could be enjoined, or known. The Bible reveals a system of truth : It reveals the being and character of God; his works and designs; the state and character of man; the person and character of the Redeemer ; his work and designs, and the way of salvation by him ; what God does, and what man must be and do, in order to his
• 1 John ü. 21. 5. 20
salvation : The Bible opens the invisible world to men, and sets before them the great, important truths reiating to the invisible eternal kingdom of Christ : And there cannot be one exercise of piety or charity, or any duty of either of these performed by any man, unless it be in the view of those revealed truths, or in conformity to them.
The holy scripture, therefore, represents the knowledge and belief of the truth, as necessary to salvation : That faith, without which men cannot be saved, is " the belief of the truth.” “ He that believeth shall be saved.” This supposes some truth to be believed ; and what can this be but the truths of the gospel ; the truth to which Christ came to bear witness ? Were there no revealed truths, there would be nothiog to be believed ; no objects of faith ; for faith is a belief of the truth. Surely none will say, saving faith consists in believing nothing, or in believing a lie! Christ speaks of the knowledge of the truth, as necessary in order to salvation, and peculiar to his followers. " If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”* ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”+
Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.”I “When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.” The apostle Paul represents the great design of the gospel to be, to bring christians to a union in knowledge and faith, or a belief and practice of truth. “ Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more chil: dren, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”|| He speaks of the doctrine which is according to godliness, as necessary to be known and obeyed by every christian. He directs Timothy to
“ Hold fast the form of sound • John vü. 17.
† John viii. 32. # John xvii. 17. $ John svi. 13. Epb. iv. 14, 15. 1 1 Tim, vị.3.
words,” which he had heard of him. * By the form of sound words, nothing can be meant, but the system of gospel doctrines, which the apostle taught, and in which he had instructed Timothy. And he was to hold fast those sound words, those wholesome, important, solid truths, by meditating upon them, and maintaining and preaching them. Which is the same with holding and preaching sound doctrines, and being sound in the faith, which he repeatedly mentions.
And the knowledge and belief of the truth revealed in the Bible is so important and essential to a christian, that all christian practice is denoted by obeying the truth, “ Obeying from the heart the form of doctrine which has been delivered to them.”+ Doing the truth, and walking in the truth. And christians are exhorted to “Contend earnestly for the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints.”|| The faith which had been delivered to the church can be nothing but the system of doctrines contained in divine revelation; the truths implied and exhibited in the gospel, which were to be believed and maintained by christians. The apostle Paul, in all his epistles, shews how important the doc, trines and truths of the gospel are, and the necessity of their being understood and embraced, in order to be saved: That the gospel consists essentially in these ; which therefore is overthrown and destroyed, by embracing and promoting the opposite errors. Christ says to Pilate, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” By the truth here, is not meant one particular truth, but all the truths and doctrines of divine revelation ; the system of truth, in which the gospel consists. This sets the importance of the doctrines of the gospel, and the necessity of understanding, believing and practising them, in a striking light. For to oppose, or neglect and live in ignorance of these, is to oppose or slight that, which Christ came into the world to establish and promote.
If the doctrines of the gospel be rejected, or overlooked and not understood, the only foundation of christian faith and practice is removed, and
2 Tim. i. 13.
† Rom. vi. 17. O Jade 3
iii. 21. 8 Jobe * Jobo xviis 67.